US institute: Work under way at NKorea reactor

Wed Apr 3, 9:47 PM UTC

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. research institute says North Korea has already begun construction at a shuttered plutonium reactor that it is vowing to restart and it could be back in operation sooner than expected.

Pyongyang announced its plans Tuesday, the latest in an almost daily string of threats toward the U.S. and South Korea that have ensued since it faced international censure over its nuclear and missile tests.

The U.S.-Korea Institute has analyzed recent commercial satellite imagery of the Nyongbyon (nee-YOUNG-bee-yuhn) nuclear facility, where the reactor was shut down in 2007.

A cooling tower for the reactor was destroyed in 2008. The institute says rebuilding the tower would take six months, but a March 27 photo shows building work may have started for an alternative cooling system that could take just weeks.